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How To Set Up an IRC Server on Ubuntu 14.04 with InspIRCd 2.0 and Shaltúre

PostedAugust 26, 2015 30.5k views Miscellaneous Ubuntu


This guide explains how to install and configure InspIRCd 2.0, an IRC server, on Ubuntu 14.04. Installing on your own server gives you the flexibility to manage users, change their nicks, change channel properties, and more.

At the end of this tutorial, you should have a fully-functioning IRC server you can connect to via most IRC clients.


Please note that items marked optional will help but aren't necessary.

  • A Ubuntu 14.04 Droplet
  • A non-root user with sudo privileges (Initial Server Setup with Ubuntu 14.04 explains how to set this up.)
  • RVM installed with the latest Ruby version. Check out this tutorial for help.
  • If you have a domain name, you can configure irc.your_domain_name and services.your_domain_name to point to the Droplet. Go to this tutorial to setup a domain name and A and AAAA records for it. If you want to redirect just two subdomains, use this tutorial.
  • (Optional) IRC client already installed on your local machine
  • (Optional) An SSL certificate

To get a free SSL certificate to use with your IRC server, follow How To Set Up Apache with a Free Signed SSL Certificate on a VPS and request a certificate for irc.your_domain_name.

If you have a paid SSL certificate from a certificate authority already, you'll need the *.pem, *.crt or *.key files that came with it.

All the commands in this tutorial should be run as a non-root user. If root access is required for the command, it will be preceded by sudo.

Step 1 — Installing InspIRCd

To install InspIRCd, we need to create a new package for it. Unfortunately for us, the package of InspIRCd that is in the Ubuntu 14.04 repositories is out of date. Luckily, there's a script available that creates an installable .deb file from the source tarball. It's open source, so we can modify it to our requirements.

We start out by installing some packages that the script uses:

  • sudo apt-get install rake git gnutls-bin libgnutls-dev

Now clone the Git repository used to create the package:

  • git clone https://github.com/SaberUK/inspircd-packages.git

Then, switch to the directory it was cloned to:

  • cd ./inspircd-packages

We need to tell the script to use the stable version of InspIRCd, which is version 2.0. We also need to tell it we need SSL support. For this, we export two environment variables that the script will read and act accordingly.

  • export INSPIRCD_REVISION=insp20
  • export INSPIRCD_MODULES="regex_posix ssl_gnutls"

Also, remove an extra patch that's present but causes issues for version 2.0.

  • rm ./extras/fix-data-and-log-paths.patch

Generate the .deb file for installation:

  • rake deb

This will take a while, so go grab a cup of coffee while it runs. Once it's done, run the following command to see the filename of the created file:

  • ls *.deb

Then install the .deb file with the following command (use the filename you just found in the last step):

  • sudo dpkg -i ./inspircd_2.0.20_amd64.deb

We will now delete the source files for InspIRCd, so if a hacker gets access, they can't recompile with malicious code.

  • cd ~
  • rm -rf ./inspircd-packages

Step 2 — Configuring InspIRCd

Before InspIRCd can actually run, we need to configure it properly. In doing this, we also set some options that are vital to the functioning of our server. Some things are unique to us, such as the network name.

Create the inspircd.conf file:

  • sudo nano /etc/inspircd/inspircd.conf

Now, copy the following example configuration file into it. The values in red need to be customized. After you copy the contents to inspircd.conf, we will start at the top and change them to the correct values.

# This is just a more or less working example configuration file, please
# customize it for your needs!
<server name="irc.example.com"
        description="Example IRC Server"

<admin name="Hameer Abbasi"

<bind address="" port="6667" type="clients">

<power diepass="SecretPassword" restartpass="OtherSecretPassword" pause="2">

<connect allow="*"

<class name="Shutdown"
<class name="ServerLink"
<class name="BanControl"
<class name="OperChat"
<class name="HostCloak"

<type name="NetAdmin"
      classes="OperChat BanControl HostCloak Shutdown ServerLink"
<type name="GlobalOp"
      classes="OperChat BanControl HostCloak ServerLink"
<type name="Helper"

<oper name="habbasi"

<files motd="/etc/inspircd/inspircd.motd"

<channels users="20"

<dns server="" timeout="5">
<dns server="" timeout="5">

<options prefixquit="Quit: "

<security hidewhois=""

<performance nouserdns="no"

<log method="file"

<whowas groupsize="10"

<timesync enable="no" master="no">

<badnick nick="NickServ" reason="Reserved For Services">    
<badnick nick="ChanServ" reason="Reserved For Services">
<badnick nick="Global" reason="Reserved For S
<badnick nick="InfoServ" reason="Reserved For Services">
<badnick nick="OperServ" reason="Reserved For Services">
<badnick nick="SaslServ" reason="Reserved For Services">
<badnick nick="StatServ" reason="Reserved For Services">
<badnick nick="ALIS" reason="Reserved For Services">

We need to change a few values that are specific to you and your Droplet. At the top, find the server section. Change it to your desired hostname, description, and network name. The id should be changed so it has two numbers and a letter. For example:

<server name="irc.yourdomain.com"
        description="Example description for the IRC server"

Now, find the admin block. Change the values to information for the operator of the IRC network. The operator user will be able to do everything on the network.

<admin name="Hameer Abbasi"

We need to be able to restart or shutdown the server. This is done in the power block. Here, you need to change the passwords. The value of diepass is the password network administrators will use to shut down the server, and the value of restartpass is the password they'll use to restart it. The value of pause tells the server how long to block an oper (in seconds) from performing these operations if a wrong password is entered. Go ahead and change the passwords. Leave pause at its default value.

<power diepass="SecretPassword" restartpass="OtherSecretPassword" pause="2">

Find the oper block. We need to define the operator account and password. The admin you defined earlier and the operator can be the same person. If you have a static IP address or a trusted domain name, change the host to include it. If possible, do not set this value to *@*, which allows an operator to connect from anywhere.

<oper name="habbasi"
      host="*@localhost *@your.local.ip.here *@your.local.domain.here"

For the host value, separate multiple IP addresses and domains with spaces. You should also add the IP address and domains (if any) of your current Droplet. Save your changes, and close the file.

Step 3 — Editing the Message of the Day

The message of the day will be shown every time a user connects to the IRC network. To customize it, create a inspircd.motd file in /etc/inspircd/:

  • sudo nano /etc/inspircd/inspircd.motd

In this file, add the message of the day you want to show users. Typically, you want a friendly reminder informing users of rules. Also, if anything is changing network-wide, this is the place to inform them. For example:

<^>This is ExampleNet. We are the world's newest IRC network.

Support us by joining and becoming regular!

Be sure to view the rules by typing "/rules" and hitting ENTER.<^>

Next, edit the rules file.

  • sudo nano /etc/inspircd/inspircd.rules

In this file, put whatever the rules are. These will be shown to the users every time they enter the /rules command. For example,

1. No children under 13 are allowed to be on this network without the knowledge and consent of their parent or legal guardian.
2. No discussion or links involving pirated software is allowed on the network.
3. No discussion of drugs or other narcotics.
4. No trading of weapons.
5. No porn. There are minors on this network.

Step 4 — Starting the IRC Server

Before starting the IRC server, we need to fix the permissions and file ownership:

  • sudo find /etc/inspircd -type d -exec chmod 770 {} \;
  • sudo find /etc/inspircd -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;
  • sudo chown -R irc:irc /etc/inspircd

Next, we need to set the correct permissions for the PID file and the log file directory.

  • sudo chown -R irc:irc /var/inspircd/
  • sudo chown -R irc:irc /var/log/inspircd

You are now read to start InspIRCd:

  • sudo service inspircd start

You should get the following message near the end, which means we've started InspIRCd successfully:

InspIRCd is now running as 'irc.example.com'[46T] with 1024 max open sockets

Step 5 — Testing Basic Functionality

Since basic functionality should be up, try connecting to your newly created IRC network. We'll walk you through installing a simple command line based IRC client on your Droplet. First, install IRSSI.

  • sudo apt-get install irssi

Then start the IRC client:

  • irssi

You should be able to type in the bottom window that says [(status)]. Note that all IRC commands begin with a forward slash. To connect to your IRC network, type:

/connect irc.example.com

If you didn't configure a hostname for your server, you can use the IP address of the Droplet. If you configured your server properly, you should see a screen similar to the following:

Connected successfully!

Now login as an operator, by typing the following command:

/oper habbasi secretPassword

If it worked, you should see the words "You are now a NetAdmin". This means that your operator privileges are working. To quit, we'll use another command:


There is a huge variety of IRC clients available for almost any device. Here is a small list of the recommended clients:

  • HexChat for Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux
  • mIRC for Windows
  • Colloquy for Mac OS X and iOS
  • IRSSI for Linux and Mac OS X
  • AndChat for Android
  • Kiwi IRC (web browser client)

Please note that with Kiwi IRC, you will have trouble using oper privileges. Kiwi connects through a proxy and does not maintain your IP address. If you choose to list only the specific IP addresses allowed to connect for operator actions (which is recommended for security), oper privileges won't work with Kiwi IRC.

Step 6 — Setting up SSL (Optional)

The goal of this section is to protect the privacy of your users and to protect passwords and other things that would be visible to anyone watching the data transmitted such as ISPs. It is, of course, optional, but highly recommended.

First of all, we need to copy your SSL certificates to the right directory. For this, we need to make a directory within the IRC server configuration directory.

  • sudo mkdir /etc/inspircd/sslcerts

Next, we need to copy the relevant SSL certificate and key to your newly created configuration directory:

  • sudo cp /path/to/ssl/private.key /etc/inspircd/sslcerts/private.key
  • sudo cp /path/to/ssl/certificate.crt /etc/inspircd/sslcerts/cert.pem
  • sudo cp /path/to/ca/validation.crt /etc/inspircd/sslcerts/ca.pem

If you're using a self-signed certificate, you can omit copying the ca.pem file. This is done in the last command above.

Set the proper permissions for the inspircd directory to protect your certificates, and so InspIRCd will be able to read them.

  • sudo find /etc/inspircd -type d -exec chmod 770 {} \;
  • sudo find /etc/inspircd -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;
  • sudo chown -R irc:irc /etc/inspircd

Edit the configuration file to tell it to use SSL:

  • sudo nano /etc/inspircd/inspircd.conf

Find this:

<bind address="" port="6667" type="clients">

Below the bind section, add these lines:

<bind address="" port="6697" type="clients" ssl="gnutls">
<gnutls cafile="/etc/inspircd/sslcerts/ca.pem"

<module name="m_ssl_gnutls.so">

If you're using a self-signed certificate, you can omit the cafile directive.

Restart the server to enable the changes.

  • sudo service inspircd restart

SSL should now be enabled on port 6697.

Step 7 — Testing SSL (Optional)

Once again, to test SSL, we'll use IRSSI. Type this as before to start IRSSI:

  • irssi

Next, type the following command to connect with SSL enabled:

/connect -SSL -SSL_Verify irc.example.com 6697

If you're using a self-signed certificate, you should omit the -SSL_Verify option.

If it succeeded, you should see a screen like this:

Your server with SSL

Go ahead and quit the client with /quit.

Step 8 — Installing Shaltúre Services

Your IRC server works, and you can connect to it. But guess what? You can't register nicks. You can't manage channel ownership and roles. You can't send or receive memos. For all that, we use services. The most popular services platform is Atheme, but its development has stopped, and it won't be updated except maybe to patch serious security vulnerabilities. For this reason, I'll explain how to install an actively developed fork of Atheme called Shaltúre.

We start out by installing a prerequisite package:

  • sudo apt-get install gettext

Shaltúre is best not run as root. But if we run it as our main user, there might be security implications. For this reason, we will create a user with no password for Shaltúre. You cannot log into this account, only access it using sudo.

  • sudo adduser --disabled-password shalture

This will give you a number of prompts, but you can just press enter through them. Now switch to the user:

  • sudo -i -u shalture

We proceed by changing the directory to your home directory and cloning the shalture repository. We will clone to a different directory because we want to install in the ~/shalture directory.

  • git clone git://github.com/shalture/shalture.git shalture-devel

Change your active directory to the shalture-devel directory and clone some other needed repositories.

  • cd ./shalture-devel
  • git submodule init
  • git submodule update

Run the configuration that sets the stage for compilation, and then compile and install:

  • ./configure --enable-contrib
  • make
  • make install

It will take some time after the second command while it compiles, so walk around to stretch your legs a bit. After it's done, remove the source files.

  • cd ~
  • rm -rf ./shalture-devel/

Step 9 — Configuring Shaltúre Services

When installation is complete, change the directory to the Shaltúre configuration directory so we can configure it. We will start with the example configuration file.

  • cd ~/shalture/etc
  • cp shalture.conf.example shalture.conf
  • nano shalture.conf

Find this in the file:

#loadmodule "modules/protocol/charybdis";

Uncomment the line by removing the # character at the beginning of the line, and replace charybdis with inspircd:

loadmodule "modules/protocol/inspircd";

Next, find:

name = "services.int";

Change int to match the domain name or IP address of your IRC server:

name = "services.your_domain_name_or_IP";

Find this line:

numeric = "00A";

Change the value of numeric so it's different from the server id you gave earlier, but it must contain two digits and a letter like so:

numeric = "07C";

Now find:

netname = "misconfigured network";

Change the value of netname to the network name you set in the server block of the InspIRCd configuration file. For example:

netname = "ExampleNet";

Also find:

hidehostsuffix = "users.misconfigured";

And remove everything in the quotation marks after users:

hidehostsuffix = "users";

Next, find this:

adminname = "misconfigured admin";

Change the part inside quotation marks to your name or pseudonym.

Now, change the contact email for the network. Find:

adminemail = "admin@example.com";

Change the value of adminemail to your email address.

Next, find this:

registeremail = "noreply@admin.tld";

Change the value of registeremail to noreply@your_domain_name. This is the email address that will be shown in the welcome email to users when they first register their nick on your network. It's also the email that will send out password reset instructions and activation instructions. We've set it to a non-existent email so it doesn't crowd up your real inbox and since replies to these emails aren't required.

Find the first uplink code block and comment out the entire block by adding /* before and */ after it. It should look like this:

/* uplink "irc.example.net" {
    // The server name of the ircd you're linking to goes above.

    // host
    // The hostname to connect to.
    host = "";

    // vhost
    // The source IP to connect from, used on machines with multiple interfaces.
    #vhost = "";

    // send_password
    // The password sent for linking.
    send_password = "mypassword";

    // receive_password
    // The password received for linking.
    receive_password = "theirpassword";

    // port
    // The port to connect to.
    port = 6667;
}; */

In the next section (after the one you commented), find:

uplink "irc6.example.net" {
        host = "::1";

        // password
        // If you want to have same send_password and accept_password, you
        // can specify both using 'password' instead of individually.
        password = "linkage";

        port = 6667;

Change irc6.example.net to services.your_domain_name. (You should have setup an A record for services.yourdomainname as part of the prerequisites.) Change the password to something secure. Change the port to 7001. It should now look similar to the following:

uplink "services.your_domain_name" {
        host = "::1";

        // password
        // If you want to have same send_password and accept_password, you
        // can specify both using 'password' instead of individually.
        password = "SuperSecret123";

        port = 7001;

Next, find the following in the nickserv block:

nickserv {
host = "services.int";

Change it to the host you want NickServ to have. Like so:

host = "ExampleNet/services/NickServ"

Perform changes similar to the last one for the following services. There will be a block in the configuration file for each one:

  • ChanServ
  • Global
  • InfoServ
  • OperServ
  • SaslServ
  • MemoServ
  • GroupServ
  • StatServ
  • ALIS

These services are the ones enabled by default with Shaltúre. Next, find this line:

operator "jilles" {

And change it so it has the nick you chose in the oper block in the InspIRCd configuration:

operator "habbasi" {

Lastly, copy the default cron configuration file to be used later:

  • cp /home/shalture/shalture/etc/shalture.cron.example /home/shalture/shalture/etc/shalture.cron

We have successfully configured services! Now, exit out of the prompt to go back to your sudo non-root user.

  • exit

Step 10 — Configuring InspIRCd to Work with Shaltúre

Next, we need to configure InspIRCd to play nice with Shaltúre. Edit the InspIRCd config file once again:

  • sudo nano /etc/inspircd/inspircd.conf

Add these lines to it at the end of the file:

<bind address="::1" port="7001" type="servers">

<uline server="services.example.com">

<link name="services.example.com"

<chanprotect noservices="no"

# Modules needed for services to function
<module name="m_chanprotect.so">
<module name="m_halfop.so">
<module name="m_services_account.so">
<module name="m_deaf.so">
<module name="m_spanningtree.so">
<module name="m_globops.so">
<module name="m_cban.so">
<module name="m_svshold.so">
<module name="m_hidechans.so">
<module name="m_servprotect.so">
<module name="m_chghost.so">
<module name="m_namesx.so">
<module name="m_uhnames.so">

For the values highlighted in red, change the values to your domain name and both sendpass and recvpass to the password you used in the uplink section of the Shaltúre configuration.

Save, and exit out of the text editor.

We're all configured! All we have to do now is to restart the server and services!

  • sudo service inspircd restart
  • sudo -i -u shalture /home/shalture/shalture/bin/shalture-services

You should see a message at the end that says something similar to the following:

[2015-07-24 22:21:10] running in background mode from /home/shalture/shalture

This means Shaltúre has started successfully.

Step 11 — Testing Shaltúre Services

Once more, connect to your server with IRSSI as you did in step 5 or 7. You should see a screen similar to the following:

Shaltúre works

This means that Shaltúre is working properly and has successfully linked to InspIRCd.

Step 12 — Making InspIRCd and Shaltúre Persistent Across Reboots

We've configured your IRC server. Now what? Well, Shaltúre wasn't installed as a service, which means it won't survive reboots. To make it do that, type:

  • sudo -i -u shalture crontab -e

If you get a prompt about which editor to use, press 2 to select nano, or any other editor you wish.

And at the end of the file, add this:

*/5 * * * * /home/shalture/shalture/etc/shalture.cron >/dev/null 2>&1

This will check every five minutes to see if services are running. If not, it starts them. Unfortunately, InspIRCd wasn't added to the startup list either, but adding it to the list is one simple command away:

  • sudo update-rc.d inspircd defaults

Now both InspIRCd and Shaltúre will run on boot!


InspIRCd allows you to set up a customized IRC network, one you can administer and manage yourself. Shaltúre complements it by adding functionality for nickname ownership, channel ownership, memos, and more.

To further configure your IRC server, check out the InspIRCd wiki or the example configuration files included in Shaltúre.


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